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February 18, 2010
By John Martin
HOT chips, porridge and perhaps even
pancakes will be on the early-morn-
ing menu for POET Dion Blair when
he competes in the world solo 24-
hour mountain-bike championship in
Canberra in October.
You see, he does not want to make
the same mistake as he did in the 24-
hour event last year.
"My nutrition let me down then," he
"From 5am I didn't take enough food
and liquid and I really suffered for it."
It hit him about 18 hours into the race
-- which seems a bit harsh after he had
ridden through the cold of the night, lap
after lap on an undulating, sometimes
rocky, 20km circuit that demanded all
"I was crawling from 8am onwards. I
was hurting quite badly."
He still managed to finish 10th though,
which was good enough to get him
across the qualifying line for the world
titles this year.
And that's an achievement which
already makes him feel proud.
This will be the first time the world
championships have been held in the
southern hemisphere and as many as six
past world champions will be competing.
POET Blair, a Guided Missile
Launching System Instructor from the
Combat Systems Maintenance School
at HMAS Kuttabul, will be just one of a
number of cyclists from Navy, Air Force
and Army who have qualified for the
race, adding some tri-Service rivalry to
"That rivalry will be a good added
extra for motivation and determination
but we'll all be aiming for the top step."
The others would not expect anything
less of him.
Since POET Blair started riding in
late 2004, he has been at the forefront of
the results tables.
He started by winning the road race
at the Arafura Games in 2005.
In 2007, he won the overall Defence
Last year he repeated the dose by
winning the overall Defence road cham-
pionship but, more relevantly for this
race, he also won the Defence endurance
He focused on his mountain-bike
skills, contesting a number of races over
varying distances -- culminating in the
gruelling Scott 24-hour race, which was
held at the Mt Stromlo Forest Park in
Canberra -- the same venue where the
world titles will be held.
Twenty-four hour events usually run
from noon on a Saturday to noon on the
The aim of the race is to complete as
many laps around a laid out track in that
time. How the riders choose to do that is
up to them. Some schedule in naps in the
pits during the night.
Others, like POET Blair push on in
the dark, the path lit only by two small
LED-powered lights attached to his hel-
met and handlebars, fighting the fatigue
POET Blair has two mountain-bikes
and he will use them in turn during the
While he's riding one his pit crew,
comprising girlfriend Suzie Peterson and
two other cyclist friends, will clean and
mechanically check the bike as well as
supply food, water and encouragement
on each lap.
This time they will record exactly
how much he eats and drinks and make
sure he is taking on the right amount of
calories to keep sufficient energy up.
Oh, and they'll be responsible for
getting him those hot chips, porridge and
hat you eat
By CPO Grant Pilgrim
SURF boat crews from Western
Australia descended on Leighton
Beach on December 12 for round
three of the 'Navy -- The Team Works'
Surf Rowers League, where they com-
peted for the right to represent WA at
the upcoming national titles.
Of special significance to Navy were
the crews from the City of Perth Surf
Life Saving Club and their new boat
the 'Stephen Slattery', which was being
raced in competition for the first time.
The boat is named in memory of
PO Stephen Slattery, who was tragi-
cally killed in the Shark 02 air crash in
Indonesia in 2005.
PO Slattery's family donated the
boat to the club during a launch the
previous weekend so all eyes were eager
to observe how the boat would fare.
Competing against rivals in the
reserve boats division, the 'Stephen
Slattery' won three heats and a semi-
final before lining up against the top six
contenders in the final.
The race was hotly contested in
the 38-degree heat, with the 'Stephen
Slattery' powering away during the last
50 strokes to win by almost two boat
Steve Bowler, the sweep of the crew,
said the crew at the City of Perth Surf
Life Saving Club felt extremely privi-
leged and honoured to row the 'Stephen
"The Navy support, sponsorship
and involvement at both the launch
of the 'Stephen Slattery' and the boat
series has been exemplary," Mr Bowler
"We aim to share the success and
appreciation with the Slattery family
and the Navy."
THE WINNING TEAMS: Navy members and the City of Perth surf boat crew gather around the
'Stephen Slattery' surf boat during her first competition.
Photo: Seng Mah
Memorial surf boat
ON TOP OF THE
WORLD: POET Dion
Blair during the 2009
Scott 24-hour race.
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